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Major Dam Project Could Leave Oregon's Detroit Lake Empty For Years


Old tree stumps are left exposed due to low water levels at Detroit Lake Friday, Sept. 18, 2015, in Detroit, Oregon.

Old tree stumps are left exposed due to low water levels at Detroit Lake Friday, Sept. 18, 2015, in Detroit, Oregon.

Brent Drinkut/Statesman Journal

A project intended to improve conditions for endangered fish could mean essentially emptying Detroit Lake for one or two years. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is planning to build a 300-foot tower and floating screen at Detroit Dam to improve water temperature and fish passage for salmon and steelhead in the North Santiam River. 

But the $100 to $250 million project has sparked alarm over the potential impact to water supply in Salem and Stayton, for farmland irrigation, and to the economies of Detroit and the Santiam Canyon from the loss of recreation at the popular reservoir.

“In the long-term, this project has a lot of positives, from a healthier environment for fish to better operation of the dam,” Marion County commissioner Kevin Cameron said. “But there is a huge risk in the short-term.”

Read the whole story at the Statesman Journal.

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